Beltrami County open to other sites for new jail

The Beltrami County Board announced they are revisiting the proposed new site for the jail project.

The county put in a $540,000 offer for a property on Jefferson Ave. SW.

Through June, the board heard numerous comments from community members and impacted neighborhood.

The board voted to construct a new $80 million, 242-bed facility last November after receiving an order from the Minnesota Department of Corrections, with instruction to make a long-term improvement to the conditions of the jail.

The county says doing nothing about the jail would mean increased costs to house inmates out of county, especially if MnDOC sunsets the current jail. According to a release:

“The County was set to submit a conditional use permit and rezone request to the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board (JPB) for the Wiebolt property, but anticipating that action, the JPB sent a preemptive legal memo to the County stating that the County Jail would not be permitted in any zone under the current zoning ordinance.”

The county says the opinion contrasts with State law directing counties to locate county Jails in the county seat.

While the county says they are not abandoning the Wiebolt site, the county board directed the county administrator to investigate some alternative sites, acknowledging that community input is a vital part of the site selection process.

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